‘Candy Crush’ Creator King Games Moving To Google Cloud Services

Remember Candy Crush? Still play it, even? Well, its parent company just made a huge announcement: they are moving a large portion of its data processing onto the public Google Cloud Platform by 2019. This isn’t an unusual move today for companies that deal with a lot of data. In fact, around 82% of companies have reported saving money by moving some or all data processing to the cloud. So what does this mean for Candy Crush?

When the mobile game ‘Candy Crush’ first dropped on Facebook in April 2012, casual and experienced gamers alike went nuts for its simple, colorful, addictive gameplay. The result? Less than two years later, its daily users rivaled that of Twitter. As by far the most-used product to come out of game-developing company King, Candy Crush became the shining jewel in King’s crown.

Even in 2018, the statistics coming out of Candy Crush are still impressive. The game has been downloaded in all seven continents — yes, that’s right, all seven. Some bored Antarctic scientist did indeed download Candy Crush in their off time.

Back to our opening question, what does this move to the cloud mean for Candy Crush and King? Many companies these days are moving to cloud-based computing. It’s often an energy-efficient and cost-efficient choice for those who process a lot of data, like King. Some fans have speculated that the move is to save money in anticipation of Candy Crush mania fading, but King seems confident that the move is simply for the good of the company’s growth, not its decline.

First vice-president of technology at King, Åsa Bredin, had this to say about using cloud computing to better handle and analyze their massive amounts of data:

It is very hard to know exactly what lies ahead, so by being able to act quickly on insights, we can also handle challenges better… One area where we expect to see a lot of innovation in mobile gaming is around our relevance. With machine learning, we predict offers and suggestions for what to tackle next and what will become increasingly relevant.

Another interesting tidbit for techies and business watchers? Bringing such a big client on Google Cloud services is another drop in the bucket of stressors Amazon Web Services has accumulated this year. King has specifically stated that they chose Google services because of their innovative technology that seemed suitable for gaming needs. It will be interesting to see how that affects future gaming partnerships with the two cloud competitors.

How Chickens Are Helping UK Nursing Homes Battle Loneliness

There are millions of different types of therapy. Some are tried and true, others the jury is still out on. Like, 22% of people who have hot tubs use them for injury recovery. It’s fabulous. Also, tried and true. What about an emotional support duck? Or any range of support animals? One thing we do know is that animals being used therapeutically is popularly en-vogue and it works.

In the UK, nursing homes have been battling a very common late-life plague: loneliness. They’ve been successfully battling it with chickens. The charity Equal Arts strives to improve the lives of elderly people by engaging them with creativity. In 2011, they started the HenPower movement aiming to reduce isolation, loneliness, depression, and dependency upon antipsychotic medication. And they would do so with chickens.

What started as a way for elderly residents to enjoy and be responsible for the curious creatures has blossomed into a widely funded movement with 40 sites and counting.

“HenPower is innovative because it is not just brief ‘petting’ of the hens, but also taking responsibility for them. There’s a huge range of roles with shared responsibilities, with diverse ways to interact with the project,” said nursing professor Glenda Cook, who led the research evaluation of the project.

Needing consistent care, the chickens from HenPower helped residents get active in the process of caring for — and hanging out with — their chickens. It has been successful and the movement shows no sign of stopping. Seeing the day-to-day difference in the quality of the lives of people affected by the simple creatures is proof in itself.

Test cases have seen drops in medication needs, depression, and loneliness. Ossie Cresswell, 87 years old, noted the difference a few feathered friends can make:

“Next to blindness loneliness is the worst thing you can have, it is a big affliction. It can destroy a lot of people. I know because I have been through it. At 87, hens are the biggest thing in our lives.”

One person who helps HenPower notes that chickens are just funny animals and that merely watching them bop around is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face. We tend to agree. Whatever is going on, HenPowerment is remarkably successful and certainly nothing to ba-gok at.

Idaho: An Unlikely Place For Billionaires, Yet Here They Are

Perhaps “here they come” is more accurate. Situated in the very heart of Idaho, the picturesque resort city of Sun Valley will be welcoming the world’s most innovative and financially successful minds for a business conference focusing on finance, media, and technology. Dozens of self-made millionaires and billionaires — from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to Bob Iger, Disney’s CEO — will be arriving in style in the coming week, as the local fixed-base operator prepares for a chaotic influx of private jets. There are more than 11,000 private jets currently registered in the US — and nearly 500 of them will be pulling into Atlantic Aviation’s base for the conference.

Sun Valley has made a name for itself as a celebrity haven, boasting guests such as Marilyn Monroe and Ernest Hemingway (and proudly displaying their pictures in the lodge), but the kind of luxury its become known for seems to exist in contrast with rest of the state. Boise, Idaho conjures the image of potatoes, especially as the origin of your most recent order of Five Guys french fries — it certainly doesn’t make you think of the beauty and brains associated with Sun Valley, yet they’re barely two and a half hours away from each other.

It would seem that Sun Valley is simply the diamond in the center of the Gem State, considering the affordability of the rest of Idaho — it has the fourth-cheapest cost of living in the nation, and seems to be growing as a result. Combining bustling, booming cities with a low cost of living pulls young people to the state as much as the idyllic views and seemingly endless pleasures of Sun Valley.

The juxtaposition of lifestyles in the two nearby cities just serves to show how much the state has to offer: possessing a truly dazzling array of landscapes — lava flows, hot springs, sand dunes, and mountains — you can enjoy the sights regardless of your humble beginnings or profound successes.

Match-Makers on a Plane: Woman Goes Viral For Love Connection at 10,000 Feet

Usually, the highlight of a plane ride consists of a soda and a package of pretzels. But for Rosey Blair, one small request on a recent flight might very well have changed the course of events for two complete strangers.

Although commercial airlines carried more than 3.8 billion passengers to their destinations in 2016, most flights are fairly uneventful — aside from delays and the occasional mishap with a service animal. Rosey Blair’s flight back to Dallas looked to be pretty ordinary too, other than the fact that she and her boyfriend didn’t have seats next to each other. When the young woman asked another passenger whether they wouldn’t mind switching seats so the couple could sit together, Blair and the female passenger joked that perhaps her new seatmate could end up being the love of her life.

From her view behind the two strangers, Blair discovered that her quip might actually end up coming true. Blair started posting regularly on her social media accounts with updates in real time about the pair, both of whom turned out to be vegetarian personal trainers. Blair — along with thousands of social media users — detailed all of the action in a thread that quickly went viral.

It seems that in these troubling times, a lot of people just want some reassurance that love is, in fact, out there — as is evidenced by the thread’s 250,000 shares and 637,000 likes. And it’s not surprising, given that 93% of recruiters view a candidate’s social media profile, that Blair and her boyfriend were even able to find the lovebirds’ social media profiles.

Former pro soccer player Euan Holder, the male in question, dubbed “hunky plane guy” and “plane bae” by Blair and other social media users, reached out to Blair after her posts took off. While the woman wishes to remain out of the limelight, she’s expressed she feels positively about the situation as a whole. It’s not yet clear whether the match will outlast the flight, though the two do appear to live in the same city. But if nothing else, the story gives singles a bit of hope that their next great love could be just an exit row away.

Taking Care of Your Teeth Can Help Prevent a Number of Major Health Concerns

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, periodontal disease (or gum disease) affects about 50% of Americans age 30 and older. It’s a result of gum inflammation and/or infection. But why does it matter so much?

Unfortunately, this disease can impact your body in more ways than one.

According to The Independent your lousy gum health can actually lead to many different health concerns. For example, heart disease is a major issue that has been linked to gum disease. Several studies have shown a direct link between heart disease and periodontists. The bacteria that cause gum disease symptoms like bleeding and bone loss around your teeth can travel to your arteries. That bacteria can latch onto the walls of your arteries and cause blood clots. When blood clots form, you’re at an increased risk for restricted blood flow to your heart.

Another concern that The Independent says is linked to periodontal disease is a stroke. A study called “Impacts of Periodontitis on Nonfatal Ischemic Stroke” revealed that people who suffered a stroke also had evidence or a history of oral infection. The research from the study showed that gum disease is pretty similar to high blood pressure as a cause of strokes.

Cancer is another health concern that may be partly caused by gum disease. Since we know that bacteria swells in your gums, it can cause similar reactions to other places within your body. A study showed that some of the bacteria that trigger gum disease might be linked to a higher risk of esophageal cancer. Another study found that men who have an advanced form of periodontal disease were 45% more likely to be diagnosed with a type of cancer.

Gum disease is nothing to mess around with, yet it’s extremely common. In fact, 74% of Americans have some form of periodontal disease. By brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist on a regular basis, you’re helping to keep your teeth in good shape. As an added bonus, you’re helping to prevent other diseases within your body.

Weekend Flooding in Baltimore Washes Away Part of Bridge

This weekend, the Laurel area of Baltimore suffered the consequences of severe rainfall and flooding on Route 198. Part of a bridge was washed away in the wake of the flood, leaving residents and commuters to find different routes on Monday, June 4.

This flooding event rode the heels of the detrimental flood that hit Ellicott City just a week earlier. In the wake of the floods, so far one person has died in the Ellicott City flood on May 27.

Over the course of the first weekend of June, Baltimore was hit with flood warnings and road closures, many of which are still in effect on Monday, June 4. The warnings are set to last until Monday night after some areas of Greater Baltimore received 4.5 inches of rainfall on Sunday. Though many roads were still closed Monday morning, some are expected to reopen following the nicer weather that is on its way.

In response to the flooding that has occurred over the weekend, Baltimore County opened a recovery center in Catonsville aimed at helping the victims of this weekend’s floods. State officials, local officials, and relief groups including Baltimore County Emergency Management worked with the community in order to offer resources to the victims, clean up damage, and rebuild. While 40% of car and home losses occur because of hail and windstorms, the floods in Baltimore resulted in firefighter pumping water from 450 flooded basements over the weekend.

Residents from all walks of life came together to discuss insurance coverage, receive emergency supplies, and discuss efforts for rebuilding over the weekend. While flooding is still a threat, especially for individuals living near large rivers like the Potomac through Monday, the weather forecast is sunny and dry for the next few days.

Drivers that usually take Route 198 are still advised to find an alternate route while the flood damage is being handled. Keep an eye on local weather and flood conditions before traveling.

Researchers Develop New Way To Fight Cancer Using The Immune System

New research may have found a way to fight back against cancer cells using our own immune systems. According to Medical News Today, researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, may have designed a chemical structure called a supramolecule to block cancer cells’ “don’t eat me” signal to the body’s immune system.

The study, led by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst assistant professor Ashish Kulkarni, was published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering on Monday, July 2. Researchers tested the supramolecule on mice modeled after aggressive skin and breast cancer.

Kulkarni and researchers compared the supramolecule to existing cancer medicines. By day 10 of the study, the untreated mice had developed large malignant tumors.

Mice that were treated with existing cancer-fighting medication showed signs of smaller tumors. And those that were treated with the researchers’ supramolecule showed a complete stop to tumor growth.

“We [could] actually see macrophages eating cancer sells,” said Shiladitya Sengupta, one of the co-authors of the study. In various microscopy images published with the paper, the mice’s immune system is shown engulfing the cancer cells.

The supramolecule works by helping the body’s macrophages. Macrophages are the largest immune cells in our bodies. Their name comes from the Greek word meaning “big eaters.”

Macrophages serve as the first line of defense against bacteria and viruses when they’ve entered the body. They’re also a key part of the body’s defense against cancer.

Macrophages come in two types, M1 and M2. M1 macrophages are what tell the rest of your immune system to activate and begin fighting against invading bacteria. The M2 macrophages are the cells that help control your body’s inflammation during the bacteria-fighting process.

It’s difficult for the immune system to fight back against cancer because of the malignant cells’ ability to trick the macrophages. Malignant cells are able to produce a type of “don’t eat me” signal. This tells the M1 macrophages that they’re not dangerous and need to be left alone.

Additionally, cancer is able to turn M1 macrophages into the more-peaceful M2s. This reduces the risk of the cancer cells being spotted by your immune system, allowing them to grow like a virus.

Kulkarni, Sengupta, and other researchers designed the supramolecule to block the malignant cells’ “don’t eat me” signal. This helps to keep cancer from going undetected by the body’s M1s.

The supramolecule is also able to prevent the cancer cells from turning the M1s into M2s. This keeps the body in defense mode against the dangerous cancer cells.

The researchers plan to replicate their findings in additional preclinical studies. The goal is to test the supramolecule for its safety, effectiveness, and necessary dosage before moving onto clinical trials.

If the supramolecule treatment is effective, it could help to combat cancer before it spreads to other parts of the body.

It could also potentially help reduce the number of people affected by the nation’s current opioid epidemic by reducing the inflammation and therefore the chronic pain caused by cancer. Four in every five new heroin users say they began by misusing prescription painkillers.

But until the supramolecule has been proven safe and effective, early detection of cancer is still essential. A positive PSA test alone is estimated to save one to two lives per every 1,000 men who take the test. Annual screening for breast cancer has also proven to reduce mortality in women by 39.6%.

“[A] combination immunotherapy, such as blocking two distinct targets in the same immune cell, is the future of immuno-oncology,” said Kulkarni. “Our approach capitalizes on this concept.”

New Mosquito-Borne Virus Found In Florida

For those who want another reason to hate mosquitoes, a not-so-new mosquito-borne virus has begun to make its rounds in the U.S. population. According to USA Today, a case of the Keystone virus has been reported and confirmed in the medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The Keystone virus was first found in mosquitoes in the Florida area in 1964. And although Keystone antibodies were found in humans in a 1972 study, there hasn’t been a case reported involving the virus itself.

Until now.

A case involving a 16-year-old boy in North Central Florida in 2016 was recently confirmed by researchers to be the Keystone virus. The boy suffered from a high fever and bad skin rash.

The boy became infected during the height of Zika virus infections. Because of this, his case went under the radar for over a year after the results of the boy’s tests came back negative for Zika and other viruses.

“We couldn’t identify what was going on,” said J. Glenn Morris, the director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute. “We screened this with all the standard approaches and it literally took a year and a half of sort of dogged laboratory work to figure out what this virus was.”

The Keystone virus is part of the orthobunyavirus genus, which has been known to infect cattle. When cattle are infected, they can exhibit brain inflammation although the boy who was infected with the virus in 2016 (and survived) only experienced a rash and fever.

The virus is thought to be spread by the mosquito Aedes Atlanticus, which is known for spreading the West Nile Virus.

To reduce infection risk, the Environmental Protection Agency suggests using insect repellent, staying inside air-conditioned area, and using screens on windows. It’s also recommended by the Florida Department of Health that homeowners drain standing water in garbage cans or pool covers to prevent attracting mosquitoes.

Although no treatment exists for the virus as of yet, symptoms may be treated at a local urgent care center. Only 3% of patients who visit urgent care centers need to be diverted to the emergency room.

“All sorts of viruses are being transmitted by mosquitoes, yet we don’t fully understand the rate of disease transmission,” said Morris. “Additional research into the spread of vector-borne diseases will help us shine a light on the pathogens that are of greatest concern to both human and animal health.”

Facebook Takes Next Step In Protecting Online User Privacy From Advertisers

Facebook has released new safeguards as a way to control how its advertisers handle user data. According to NBC News, Facebook has installed new controls to inform its online users about how companies are targeting them with advertising.

Beginning July 2, advertisers will be required to inform Facebook users if they’re being shown an ad because their information was obtained by a data broker. A data broker is a firm that collects personal data about consumers to sell to businesses for marketing information.

Facebook’s new policies are meant to create a greater sense of transparency for its users. They’ll also require more accountability from the social media giant’s advertisers.

“We are not taking a position on whether third-party data is inherently good or bad,” said Graham Mudd, Facebook’s director of product marketing.

“We are taking a position on the importance of having the right to use the data and for it have been sourced responsibly,” Mudd said.

These new policies are Facebook’s latest push against data brokers in the shadow of the company’s major data breach. Facebook had initially moved to ban data brokers on March 28, but major marketers threatened to pull funding.

According to a Facebook spokesperson, the advertisers said restrictions on data brokers would hurt their ability to target ads at the 1.97 billion Facebook users that are active around the world every month.

Still, Facebook has had to make a series of moves against data brokers to repair its reputation after recent data scandals. The most recent scandal involved Cambridge Analytica’s theft of private information from 87 million people.

Prior to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, many Americans were unaware their data was being harvested by data brokers for marketing purposes. Since then, Facebook has attempted to find a balance between the public’s desire for greater privacy and its advertisers’ demands for access to consumer information.

“Facebook is caught between tremendous pressures from marketers and privacy demands from policymakers and the public,” said Kathryn Montgomery, a Communications professor specializing in media and privacy issues at American University.

Still, a recent Reuters poll of 1,780 people shows that advertisers may also need to find a balance when it comes to obtaining information from online consumers. Up to 59% of those in the survey report that they would use a social media website less often if they knew a tech firm was partnering with a data broker.

David Copperfield Not Liable For Magic Show Injuries

As of May 29, Gavin Cox will receive nothing in his civil case against the illusionist, David Copperfield, for injuries he sustained during a 2013 Las Vegas magic show. Copperfield was found not liable by the court, which ruled that the fan was responsible for his own injuries.

Cox’s case began when he sued Copperfield, a Las Vegas hotel, a construction company, and two other companies owned by Copperfield, after he tripped performing in one of Copperfield’s tricks. Cox’s attorneys claim that the fall resulted in a brain injury and shoulder injury, the latter of which he received medical attention.

Regardless of the injuries incurred at the time of Copperfield’s performance and the $400,000 Cox paid in medical expenses from the injuries, neither Copperfield nor the hotel were held financially liable.

The civil trial was not brought to federal court and was decided by a jury of Clark County residents. This is not surprising, given that only 1% of civil cases reach a federal court. Despite the sensational civil suit, this case gained popular attention because Copperfield’s trick was revealed during the case. It was revealed that the Lucky 13 trick relied on a maze of hallways the participant had to navigate before reappearing on the other side of the stage.

Cox claimed that construction debris got in the way, causing him to trip and injure himself.

Cox also claimed that he needed assistance to walk due to the severity of his injuries, as seen when he was helped into the courtroom by aids five years after the injury. However, other footage shows Cox completely independent of assistance outside the courtroom.

Copperfield and the hotel were ultimately not held financially liable for injuries Cox incurred during the show. The jury only deliberated for a surprisingly short two hours before reaching their verdict.